Inspire Artistic Minds was started as a local organization but has blossomed into one of the most important charitable organizations for the restaurant and bar industry in the country. The purpose of IAM is to offer educational grants for those involved in bars and restaurants to better their knowledge of the industry and especially to obtain advanced education in areas such as mixology, sommelier and cicerone certification. IAM encourages the growth with both scholarships and educational experiences to advance the culinary arts in areas of taste, sight and sound, Their aim is to stimulate the growth of the local economy, strengthen small business and support passionate individuals in many creative industries.
Bobby Navarro, founder of Inspire Artistic Minds, believes Negroni Week is a great opportunity to support IAM. Bobby said today, June 1 that “I believe that our organizations offers an incredible synergetic property for events dealing with spirits. Bartenders are incentivized to partner with us because we are one of the only organizations in the country offering opportunity scholarships for hard working, artistic individuals like bartenders”. Enabling bartenders to attend events such as the Portland Cocktail Week, where they can not only network with their peers but attend seminars from the top mixologists and bartenders in the business is just one way that IAM helps further the careers of bartenders throughout the country.
With their devotion to helping the culinary and bar industries, many local and out-of-state restaurants have chosen Inspire Artistic Minds to be their charitable organization of choice for the upcoming Negroni Week. The event, sponsored by Imbibe Magazine, celebrates the Negroni, considered one of the iconic classic cocktails of the 20th Century. The classic Negroni is based on equal parts of gin, red vermouth and Campari, an herbal, bitter liqueur with fruit overtones in it. In the description of the drink, it is generally classified as an apéritif, a drink that is enjoyed before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Most accounts claim that it was invented in Florence, Italy in 1919 by Count Camillo Negroni.
Whatever its origins, though, it is a tasty drink that is coming back in popularity. Helping it along, Imbibe Magazine started Negroni Week in 2013 as a way to both bring back the drink’s popularity and also a way that restaurants and bars around the world could donate money to the charity of their choice for the week. Around the world, last year over 1,300 bars participated in Negroni Week, raising more than $120,000 for charity. Not only has IAM embraced the Negroni, but an impressive list of events ands restaurants are devoted to not only celebrating the drink but to raise awareness of Inspire Artistic Minds and help advance their charitable goals.
The Negroni Week events that Inspire Artistic Minds are involved in start off on June 1st with the Negroni Week Kick Off Party. This event, which will take place at Mesa in Costa Mesa, will be a competition and Bols Genever is offering a trip to New Orleans for the winner to attend one of the most critically acclaimed cocktail conferences in the country. Guests who purchase the limited, $20.00 pre-sale tickets (with limited at-the-door sales) will be offered tastes of different Negroni variations from 5 to 10 bars. Mesa, whose Executive Chef Nikki Starr Weyler is one of the rising stars on the Orange County culinary scene, is known for their creative food and dynamic bar scene.
The first Los Angeles County event takes place on June 3rd, when Harlowe Bar in West Hollywood hosts their Negroni Week Party. Special cocktail menu offerings, discounted Negronis with a portion of the proceeds going to Inspire Artistic Minds and Negroni slushes will be a tasty way to enjoy the event while helping IAM reach their goal of bettering the lives of those in the bar industry. A special DJ will be spinning music for the event. Harlowe is a tribute to Hollywood’s Golden Age, with top LA culinary icon Chef Eric Greenspan consulting on the menu items.
On Sunday, June 7th, the Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood will host the closing event of IAM’s Negroni Week. Negroni Jello Shots will give a tasty, flavorful and fun way to enjoy the classic cocktail, while a Negroni Sorbetto will yield a more mature, albeit just as fun way to try a creative spin on the drink. A live band will play from 10pm until close.
Locally, many other bars are donating their Negroni Week proceeds to Inspire Artistic Minds. Broadway by Amar Santana, Anepalco Restaurant, 320 Main and Pizzeria Mozza are just a few of the Orange County establishments that have chosen to support IAM’s worthy endeavors. In Los Angeles County, The Normandie Club, Frankie’s and the Melrose Umbrella Company are just a few of the bars participating. Heading south, Noble Experiment in San Diego will be coming up with some excellent Negroni offerings.
Nationwide, several bars have jumped in to help Inspire Artistic Minds during Negroni Week. In the Pacific Northwest, District Portland in Portland, Oregon is getting involved and in Seattle, Washington Liberty is providing their share of drinks during Negroni Week. Even the Big Apple is providing support for IAM during Negroni Week as Death+Company mixes their share of the classic cocktail. A complete list of the bars participating can be found here.
Bobby Navarro, whose favorite cocktail is of course the Negroni, feels that IAM is extremely important to the culinary scene in Los Angeles and Orange County. He said, “There is much support for pre college learning, there is now an opportunity to gain support for a craft or talent you have that you have already stretched yourself to develop. We offer the unique opportunity for these artistic individuals to get support that hasn’t always been offered”.
As many in the bar and restaurant industry have learned, Inspire Artistic Minds helps better their staff as well as raising the level of quality bartenders, mixologists, cicerones and sommeliers in the area, thereby boosting the enjoyment level of everyone who gets a drink from these experts in their chosen field. And ultimately, that is the bottom line, for the customer to have a better experience because of the quality of the bar staff. For this, Inspire Artistic Minds is taking the lead in enhancing the lives of both the bar staff and the patrons who enjoy their drinks. So during Negroni Week, from June 1st through June 7th, go have a few Negronis and revel in the fact that you are not only having a delicious cocktail but helping a worthy cause.